Off-Grid Water and the New Pumphouse

As we get ready to build our new home, we are trying to get the infrastructure in place before all the REAL construction starts.  The septic tank is in place, as is our well.  We have an orchard that is already producing fruit, a temporary garden site, a place to live on site while we build the house, and a gravel driveway with lots of gravel.

One of the last things we need to do is build a house to enclose our well head, the water storage tank, a booster pump and a pressure tank.  A lot of people don’t enclose these components, and that’s okay, but we want everything to last as long as possible and we also want a safe, clean water supply. Unfortunately, some of our neighbors are a bit shady, so we don’t want any of our equipment to go missing.  We also won’t have to worry as much about someone or something fouling up our well.

Ray built this water tower a few years ago, and it works very well giving us enough pressure to run a hose, flush a toilet or take a shower. Unfortunately, California Code Book says we can’t use it for our new home. 🙁

Being off-grid, we have had some challenges figuring out a system that is both energy efficient and will also pass California’s over-bearing and unnecessarily strict building codes.  You see, we really wanted to just use gravity fed water drawn from the wonderful water tower that Ray built some years ago. Unfortunately, we are required to install fire suppression water sprinklers in our home, which requires that a certain water pressure be maintained for a certain amount of time, and the water tower cannot supply this requirement.

Not only do we have to pay for this unwanted fire suppression water sprinklers (about $5,000 is the cheapest quote we have received thus far), but we also have to pay for the booster pump, pressure tank and all the necessary extra solar panels, batteries and wiring to support them.  Harrumph!

Why don’t we want the sprinklers?  Because, so far, we have heard of more insurance claims from damage caused by frozen sprinkler pipes (we live in the Sierra Nevada Mountains) bursting in the winter than we have heard of homes saved by the fire sprinklers.  Besides, we are also are required to have a fairly expensive smoke detector system that is integrated within the system.  Also California Code. Also a lot of money.

A lot. 🙁

We decided to build the pump house just like we built our tool shed (which we turned into our bunk house), with a concrete slab upon which two levels of concrete brick will be mortared, then the rest with framework of 2 x 6’s, and finally a metal roof.  Of course, the first thing we had to do was figure out where the building would be built!  We knew we wanted to include the original concrete slab that surrounded the well head.  It took a while to figure the best orientation: where a window would go and which way the ridge of the roof would run.  We also needed to decide how big the building would be.  We didn’t want it to be too big, but at least big enough to be able to move around inside to work on components and turn on/off switches and/or faucets.

Building an Off-Grid Pump House

Figuring out where to put the pump house, and how many concrete blocks will be needed.

We started out framing with 2 x 6’s for the concrete slab, because we wanted about 2 inches of gravel with about a 4 inch thick slab for the floor.  Ray figured out a system of Off-Grid Pressurized Water Systempipes and faucets and such, which were all imbedded into the concrete slab.  Since the slab was going to be fairly large, we decided to pour half of it one day, wait a day for the first pour to set up, then finish the slab with another pour.  So glad we did this because we hand mixed in a wheelbarrow a total of 52 bags of cement!  My back is aching!  As you can see in the picture to the left, we set rebar into the concrete along the edges, that will tie into the concrete block and make the block wall more sturdy.  Pressurized Water Off-Grid

The PVC pipes for two faucets and the household water supply pipe, along with electrical conduit for two wires was buried in the gravel under the concrete.  With everything either being in walls or underground within the building, we are hoping none of them freeze. One of the wires goes from the solar panels to the pump, and the other wire is actually a sensor wire. The sensor wire will be placed inside the water storage tank and trips the solar pump off when the tank is full.  Our pump is a really cool brushless pump, with a direct current motor that we bought from Advanced Power Inc. (previously called Robison Pumps) and runs on solar, batteries or generator.  Perfect for off-grid applications.

Cool, huh?

Once the entire concrete slab was poured, we next needed to set the concrete block.  We used 6 inch wide block (it also comes in 8 inch wide) because we plan to use 2 x 6 lumber for the framing, which would make the whole building look more uniform.  At least that’s the plan!

Setting concrete blocks is not easy work, but Ray had a bit of experience from being a hod boy for his step-father when he was young, and we have completed several projects over the years with concrete block and also clay brick.  Working with the concrete blocks and mortar, I must say, is nasty stuff – especially if you don’t have good gloves!  I ended up losing the skin on some of my fingers when it was all said and done, from the lye in the mortar mix!  Seriously…  I could rob a bank because I don’t have fingerprints right now!   Hahahaha…

Fortunately, we were able to get the two rows done in just a few day’s work.Water Systems Off-The Grid

Once the block walls were up, we had to fill the voids with concrete.  Not only does this make the walls more stable, but the concrete holds in the J-bolts, which will eventually Pressurized Off-Grid Waterhold down the sill plate, which holds down the framework.  In the picture above, you can see a loose J-bolt, and another one imbedded into the concrete.  You have to leave enough of the J-bolt above the concrete so that the sill plate will fit over, and the bolt will have enough room to tighten down.  You can see in the picture to the left how we filled each void in the concrete block with cement.  It’s not pretty, but it works, and the sill plate covers everything anyway, so you will never see this view again!

The best part?  All of the cement/mortar work on the pump house is done!  Wahoo.  Now I can grow my fingerprints back again.  😉

Finally, Ray set the sill plate.  He had to drill holes for all the pipes and bolts that intruded through the board.  The boards were put on right after we had finished filling the concrete voids of the wall, so that the pipes would be held in the correct position as the concrete cured.  With the sill plates attached, we are now ready to start framing the walls.

We were so excited when John at Precision Pump and his two apprentices placed the rest of our equipment!  These guys are professionals and had the entire system up and running in no time!  We got a Gould Booster Pump and an Amtrol Pressure tank – both American made, which is important to us.  You can see the schematic of our system in the picture below.  As always, you can click on a picture for a better view.How to get pressurized water off-grid

The water is pumped from the well by a solar pump, and flows into the water storage tank.  You can see the blue ball valve in the line between the well head and the water storage tank.  That stops the flow of the water into the storage tank so that the water can flow through the faucet in the picture that says “unpressurized water from well pump to faucet”.  Of couse, there is a little bit of pressure, just not a whole lot.  The upright PVC pipe at the upper left corner is where the electricity comes in from the solar panels and powers the solar pump.

The other faucet is fed by the pressurized tank.  Now look at the square of rock in the lower right corner of the concrete slab, where two PVC pipes disappear.  The skinny pipe is the one that leads to the pressurized water faucet.  The larger pipe will lead down the hill to our home.  We don’t want to trench and set the line for that until most of the heavy construction is done, for obvious reasons.

Building off-grid water system with pressure

The upper red circle shows where the electricity for the booster pump comes in from under the concrete. The electricity will come from the household solar system. Follow the red line to the pressure switch – the gray box – inside the second red circle. This controls the booster pump turning on and off, based on the pressure within the pressure tank. Following the red line around brings you to the booster pump, the blue thingy.

What happens is the booster pump will be fed by electricity from the solar system that will be placed on the roof of our house.  It pumps water from the water storage tank into the pressure tank, the big off-white thing next to it.  The pressure tank is what gives us enough pressure for household use and brings up to code for our future fire suppression sprinklers.  The booster pump runs on 110 and is 1-1/2 horse, which was important to us since we are off-grid, and keeps the pressure tank between 30 to 50 pounds of pressure.

household off-grid pressurized system

This picture shows where the electrical comes out (or goes into) from under the concrete in the pump house. The line on the left is from the solar panels that power the actual well pump. The one on the right is coming from our future household solar system, that will be on our roof. Once the heavy work is done on the house, we will trench and place the conduit with the wires, along with the 2″ PVC pipe for the water for the house.

In the meantime, as we are living in our travel trailer and small bunk house, we hooked up this system to the trailer and – WOW.  The pressure is absolutely wonderful!  I can actually rinse all the shampoo out of my thick hair now!  Whoopeeeee!

Now…   on to framing!

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Meanwhile, in the outhouse

I know.  It’s been a while since I posted anything on building our outhouse.

Sorry.

I know you have been waiting with baited breath to see our next step!  😉

We have been using the outhouse for more than a year now and have a very strong opinion about it…

WE LOVE IT!

Does it smell bad?  Not really.  Every few days or so we throw in either a sprinkling of lime or a cupful of composted wood chips.  This helps keep down smells and also moves the natural composting along.  I have heard that you can throw some red worms down into the pit and they will naturally compost the contents, but we haven’t tried that trick yet.

how to build an outhouse

We put siding on the inside walls and caulked the seams – that should keep the spiders out!

Once we got settled up here, we knew we wanted to finish off the outhouse, especially with some interior walls. I hate spiders and I think every spider within the vicinity of the outhouse set up housekeeping in the corners of the 4 x 4 framing studs!  We wanted to use something sturdy for the walls that won’t attract moisture, and decided to use siding!  You know…   the stuff you put on the outside of your house?  It was reasonable in price, sturdy, easily cut and painted very well.  We didn’t insulate the walls because, for heaven’s sake, it’s an outhouse!  😉

When we remodeled our master bathroom a couple of years ago, we kept part of the old vanity, and a few modifications made it the perfect fit for our outhouse.  The under sink storage would come in handy. The vanity was made from oak and was very sturdy, but had a few dings and scratches in the finish.  I could either sand it down, restain the wood and reseal it, or I could lightly sand the glitches and scuff the surface, then paint.  I opted to paint. Since I didn’t want to do too much sanding, I decided to use a fairly dark brown spray paint, which would help hide the imperfections in the wood.

Years ago (more years than I care to admit) I worked in a tile store, and was lucky enough get a lot of free discontinued or defective tile.  I once acquired 14 cases of 4″ x 4″ beige tile because the manufacturer found that the color was off just the slightest bit!  Between the free tile and the left-over tile from many projects over the years, I had saved a lot of tile.  Seriously – a lot!

How to build an outhouse

This is a picture of only a part of the tile I have saved over the years! The colored tiles were still boxed up. You can see the floor tile we found at the Habitat for Humanity Re-Store in the bottom right corner

So…  what to do with so much tile?

Why, tile the outhouse, of course!

The first thing I had to do was organize my tile.  I had boxes and boxes of this and that – beautiful blue 4 x 6 tiles, gorgeous multicolored 1 x 1 tiles, and hundreds of white, off-white, gray, almond, tan, beige, bone, etc., 4 x 4’s and 6 x 6’s.  I had end caps galore, along with bullnose and quarter-rounds in lots of different colors.

But, the one thing I didn’t have enough of was floor tile.  I really wanted to tile the floor because tile is so much easier to keep clean than bare concrete.  We went to our local Habitat For Humanity’s Re-Store and found the perfect tile!  I didn’t need many square feet to cover the floor and I found eleven 12 x 12 floor tiles for only 50 cents each!  Sold!

building our outhouse

I had lots of these beautifully textured, brilliant royal blue 4″ x 4″ tiles that made a nice accent to the tile.

After working out the number of tiles I would need for the vanity top and the bench seat, I thought the result would look just a little bland all in almond and white, so I decided to add a band of these brilliant blue 4 x 4 tiles. The blue in these 4 x 4’s brought out the blue accents in the floor tiles!  Perfect!

Laying the floor tile was easy.  I purchased a simple tile saw several years ago at one of the big box stores for about $80, and it has come in handy many, many times.  Since I had more tile than I really needed for the floor, I decided to use the excess as a floor edging, bringing the tile up the sides of the wall.  This would make it a lot easier to keep the floor clean because I would be able to basically hose it off!  I used thinset adhesive to set the floor tiles because I was tiling over a concrete floor and sides.

how to build an outhouse

This is a picture of the floor tile all set – but not yet grouted. I used 3/8 inch spacers. You can see a different tile I used at the threshold. This floor tile had a bullnose edge (which gives one edge a finished edge) and it matched the other floor tile pretty well.

When the floor was completed, I began to set the tile on the vanity countertop.  First to set

Building an outhouse

The edge cap tiles were a bit lighter in color than the almond colored field tile, but that’s okay, it looked good anyway!

were the edge pieces.  Since I didn’t have any corners for the edges, I had to cut them myself, which can be tricky.  I messed up on only one piece which was lucky, because I only had one to spare! Whew!  Once all the edges were set, I placed all the field tile – that’s the 4 x 4’s on the sink counter and the 6 x 6’s on the bench seat.

Meanwhile, Ray was cutting holes through the outhouse wall right behind the vanity.  These holes allowed us to install a couple of hoses, so that we could have running water in the sink!  A sink in an outhouse?  You betcha!

Building an outhouse

The hose on the left is a drain that goes out to our fern grotto. The hose on the right goes up to the faucet, supplying water to the sink!

how to build an outhouse

This old sink came from my grandma and grandpa’s old hotel in Gridley, California. A little elbow grease was all that was needed to make it almost new again!

This sink came from my grandma and grandpa’s hotel.  The hotel was built in 1872 and had old sinks, clawfoot tubs, armoires for closets, and pull-chain toilets!  Before it was torn down my family was able to get some of the better pieces. Just a little bit of elbow grease and some cleanser and the sink looked almost new again!  The old faucet pieces and parts weren’t useable, so we opted to use the hole on the right for a single faucet (only cold water would be supplied to the outhouse) and the hole on the left for a liquid soap dispenser, both of which we bought from a hardware store for less than $20.

A few days after the tile had been set it was time to grout.  I had three partial boxes of grout to choose from.  One was a creamy yellow.  Nope.  The other was gray.  Nuh-Uh.  The last one was a color called “camel”.  The color on the box showed a reddish, almost orange-ish brown, which is the color of our dirt!  So that was the one – camel!

how to build an outhouse

The sink is very functional now, with running water, a soap dispenser, pretty soaps, and a hand towel at the ready.

I decided to grout everything, even the counter-top and bench seat, with the camel colored grout.  I knew it would hide our dirt well, and was very pleased with the outcome.  Once the grout was allowed to set for 48 hours, Ray installed the sink.  The sink is supplied water from our water tower, which was built up the hill from the outhouse and is approximately 20 feet tall (height adds water pressure).  Several long garden hoses snake through the forest on our property from the tower to the outhouse, through the hole Ray cut in the wall and up to the faucet.  The waste water (which is considered gray water) is drained from the sink with a short hose out into the fern grove we are planting around the outhouse.

how to build an outhouse

I used the same color of grout for everything. Not only did it unify everything, but it is the same color of our dirt, so it should be easy to keep clean!

Then, what would an outhouse and sink be without a medicine cabinet?  My oldest sister, Deana, was remodeling her new home and didn’t want the old medicine cabinet that was in

Building an outhouse

This medicine cabinet probably came from the 50’s. A tag inside identified it as coming from Montgomery Ward!

the bathroom, so I took it.  It was a little rough around the edges and had a few layers of paint on it, but I felt that was what gave it so much charm.  So, I decided to gently sand off the loose paint and leave the cabinet in it’s charming, well used condition.  When Ray mounted the cabinet into the wall, I knew it was perfect!

Now I needed to finish the edges!  You see, the tile I used had raw edges.  That’s what field tile is – tile with unfinished (unglazed) edges.  We remedied that with some left over decorative wood molding.  We did have to buy a bit more to finish under the vanity, but all in all, the finish work in this outhouse cost us very little.  Now, while we are living in our travel trailer as we build our new home here on the homestead, our family and friends have a decent, functional and (I think) cute place to use when nature calls!

how to build an outhouse

Well….
What do you think?  We LOVE it, and so do our family and friends who come to visit!
Of course, the final touch is a beautiful oil painting my mother painted!  It looks perfect in there and I know it will be safe until our new home is built.

Other than landscaping, painting the outside and building a front porch/stair up to the outhouse, it is pretty much done!

Would you use my outhouse?

 

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Our Water Tower

My husband and I have recently moved up to our “future homestead” and will be living in our travel trailer as we are building our new home.  While our Architect and Engineer finish our house plans, and while the building department in our county reviews the plans before they give their approval, we are preparing our living arrangements so that we can live comfortably while we work.

One thing that needed to be done was to build a water tower.  Before the water tower was built, we would pump water from our well into a water storage tank that was sitting on the

This will be home sweet home while we build our new house. Solar panels run the lights, the TV, satellite receiver, fans and a CD/radio.

This will be home sweet home while we build our new house. Solar panels run the lights, the TV, satellite receiver, fans and a CD/radio.

ground, and with a few lengths of hoses, this delivered fresh water into our trailer.  It worked, but we just didn’t have much water pressure.  Sure, we could turn on the water pump in the trailer, but we are living off-grid and prefer to use our solar power for other things – like lights, fans, satellite TV receiver, flat screen television and a CD/radio. Contrary to what some people believe, living off grid is not living like Neanderthals!

It’s important to know that for every foot in elevation, you get almost half a pound of water pressure.  So, if the water source is 20 feet higher, you will have almost 10 pounds of pressure.  Most municipal water systems provide about 40-60 pounds of pressure.

Our main reason to have the higher pressure was to get a better shower.  Without the water pump on, and before the water tank was built, we used to have a trickle, not a shower! 😉  That was very unsatisfying after a hard day of work.

The first thing we had to do was purchase some lumber posts that were tall enough for the tower.  We were surprised to find that our local box store had 20 foot long posts that were 6 inches by 8 inches.  These came at a hefty price (a little over $100 each).  The 2 x 6 cross braces weren’t much cheaper because we chose to use treated lumber.

A water tower

This is some hefty lumber – and fairly expensive also!

I know, I know, treated lumber has poison in it and it will contaminate the ground.  We considered that, but tossed about the fact that our land is populated by millions (not exaggerating) of carpenter ants and probably more termites!  Do we build a very expensive water tower that will be eaten in a few years by six legged critters, or do we buy the treated lumber and enjoy the tower for at least 20 years?  Knowing that there were no food crops growing near the tower, the tower was at least 50 feet from our well, and our home was also going to be almost 50 feet away from the tower, we opted for the treated lumber.

Building a water tower

Deep holes were dug to pour a concrete foundation for each leg of the water tower.

The first thing to do was to dig the holes for a concrete foundation the water tower legs would rest upon, with room for more concrete to encase the legs.  The holes were dug fairly deep (more than 5 feet deep), rebar was pounded down into the holes at different angles to give even more stability, and almost three feet of concrete was poured into the holes.  Ray had to wait a couple of days for this concrete to set up before he could place the four legs of the water tower on top.  In the meantime, the first side of the tower was built on the ground.  It was much easier that way.  Dear hubby Ray set up a pulley system on one of the tall pine trees nearby, and used the quad motorcycle to pull the first side up into place on the poured concrete pads.  You can see in the picture below that he used both lag bolts and later some carriage bolts to build the tower.

How to build a water tower

Building the first two opposites sides on the ground first, then erecting them with a pulley system, was a bit scary, but it worked!

Once two opposite sides of the tower were up with each leg of the tower resting securely in the center of each concrete and rebar pad, Ray set about securing them together, again with the carriage bolts and some lag bolts.

building a water tower

Getting all four sides of the tower upright was an engineering feat! Have I told you my dear hubby can do just about anything? 🙂

After the four sides of the tower were secure, more concrete and rebar was poured around each leg.  You can see in the picture below that Ray built the concrete up like a volcano around each leg, to help with water run-off.  Once the tower has been in use for a few months and any settling has occurred, we will pour a 6 inch thick concrete pad under the entire tower, incorporating each leg, which will make it even stronger! water tower Iphone

The tower was now starting to look like an actual water tower!

how to build a water tower

4 x 4 treated lumber was used for the deck that the water storage tank will rest upon

The next task was to build a deck on the top of the tower to support the water storage tank. We decided to use treated redwood 4 x 4’s because the deck had to support a lot of weight!  The water storage tank holds 305 gallons. Did you know that a gallon of water weighs about 8 pounds?  So, if my calculations are correct, the deck of the water tower has to hold at least 2,400 pounds!  Sheesh!

Once the deck was built, it was time to hoist the storage tank up. Easier said than done, and I honestly didn’t know how we were going to do that.  However, my dear hubby’s ingenuity rigging up hoists and pulleys eventually got the job completed!  I’ll tell you a secret…  that was really, really scary to watch!

How to build a water tower

I was so afraid that the rope would break or come undone.    Boy, that was scary!

Finally, the intake and outtake pipes had to be plumbed.  The fresh water coming from the well goes into the top bulkhead (hole) of the tank and the water going to the trailer comes out of the bottom bulkhead.  The pump in our well is a very versatile pump – we can run it on either batteries, a generator, or solar panels.  Right now we are using a generator because we have a few trees to cut down before the solar panels will work right.  Once the solar panels are operational, we have a sensor that Ray will install into the tank on top of the water tower.  The sensor will turn on the well pump when the water gets down to a certain level.  With this set-up, we will be able to have our water tank automatically kept full without us even having to think about it!

Now won’t that be cool?

No leaks!  Done!

No leaks! Another project done!

This was another project completed to make our lives easier while we build our new home. We can now have a nice hot shower after a long day of work!

I can’t wait to show you what else we have been doing!

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We’re Finally Here!

Our homestead is no longer our “future homestead” – it is now home!

You see; dear hubby retired on December 31 (♫♫ wahoo ♫♫), which meant we could finally move up to our future homestead in the mountains.  Since it was mid-winter and we had plenty of time (I did not want to live in our travel trailer during the winter), I decided to put our valley home on the market myself – just to test the waters – using Zillow.  Well, lo and behold, a couple toured the house, loved it and put in a offer.  A full price offer!  We couldn’t say no, but we really didn’t expect to sell so soon!

A picture of the ship we took our Mexican Riviera Cruise upon.

A picture of the ship we took our Mexican Riviera Cruise upon.  We had a wonderful time!

In the meantimem we just HAD to go on a Mexican Riviera cruise that our sons bought us as a gift for my husband’s retirement!  Yes…  they are awesome sons!  It was our first cruise and we had the time of our lives.

Meanwhile, back at the house, after all the inspections the sale of our home was “full speed ahead” and when we got back from our cruise we had only ten days to vacate our home.

Ten days!  Ugh.  We had lived in that home for 25 years.  Do you know how much “stuff” gets accumulated in 25 years?  Oh my goodness, I was finding stuff stashed away that I thought I had lost years ago.  I also found a lot of things that I couldn’t remember why I was saving! 😉

The family room where I raised my three boys.  We spent a lot of time there - 25 years!  I miss my home, but I am sure our new home will be just as loved!

The family room where I raised my three boys. We spent a lot of time there – 25 years! I miss my home, but I am sure our new home will be just as loved!  This was one of the pictures I put on Zillow to sell the house.

So, we packed boxes, gave away some of the “good” stuff, took a few truckloads to Goodwill, a few more truckloads to the local landfill, had a “garage sale” and sold a lot of our furniture to a local used furniture dealer.  The rest of our possessions were stuffed into the cargo container on our future  homestead.

Our new laundry room.  It also houses our freezer and quite a few boxes of household "stuff".

Our new laundry room. It also houses our freezer and quite a few boxes of household “stuff”.

Unfortunately, we didn’t have enough room even in the cargo container!  So, we went to the local “box store” and bought an 8 x 10 metal shed.  It took us four days to get the shed built (a few swear words may or may not have been involved), and in the meantime a lot of boxes and pieces of furniture were stored under tarps.  Good thing we used lots of tarps, because before we could secure all the stuff that was under tarps into the new shed, this happened…..

A beautiful snowy day - full of potential disaster! This is a picture of the lane leading into our property.

A beautiful snowy day – full of potential disaster! This is a picture of the lane leading into our property.

Yes, the snow was absolutely gorgeous!  Unfortunately, just two days before this snow we had erected our screened gazebo – our temporary “family room” of sorts – and the snow was so heavy that the gazebo collapsed.  We got the gazebo propped up with old fence boards and 2 x 4’s, cleared the snow from the roof of the travel trailer (our temporary home) and the new metal shed, made sure water wasn’t getting in under the tarps, and fretted about our poor mandarin and lemon trees, along with the baby fruit on our cherry, almond, plum and peach trees!  The snow finally stopped at about 2:30 in the afternoon, and it looked like the worst was over.  We went inside the trailer to get warm, and just as soon as my fingers and toes were no longer tingling, we looked back outside only to see that it was snowing again!  I cried.  By dusk the snowfall had mercifully stopped.  We were not expecting this snow – at all!  We live in California, are in the middle of a severe drought, and this snowstorm dumped more snow in the mountains than had fallen in all of January and February!

When the snow melted (it took a couple of days) we were pleasantly surprised to see that the fruit on our trees still looked viable and the gazebo was fixable!

Inside our screened gazebo - the new "family room".

Inside our screened gazebo – the new “family room”.

So, it was time to get back to the business of setting up our temporary living quarters while we build our new home.  Once the new metal shed was completed, we stuffed the back with boxes and then put our new freezer in, along with the electric washing machine from our home in the valley.  I am happy to let the sun dry my clothes because they smell so good and fresh when line dried, however this next winter that won’t be an option.  Of note – line dried jeans literally stand by themselves!  So, dear hubby found an almost new propane dryer on Craigslist for $100. I will still hang most everything out to dry on our solar dryer, but knowing we have an alternative when we really need it is reassuring. This shed is now called our utility room.

By this time weeks had flown by.  We finally had all of our possessions under one roof or another and we were getting settled into our new surroundsings.  We were happy but absolutely exhausted!

It was time to get back to our most important task, and that is to get our house plans drawn and submitted to the county building department for approval! The plans I had been working on over the past four years were on my desktop computer, and it was time to get the computer out of storage (in the car), set it up and finalize the plans I wanted to send to the architect.

Yeah – right.

My desktop wouldn’t boot up completely.  Every time we tried to get the computer running, it would shut itself down.  We took the hard drive to Geek Squad and they gave us the bad news – the motherboard was fried!  Ugh!

So, here I am typing this blog post on my new laptop.  An expense we didn’t expect to have at this time, but it is what it is.

I am learning how to be more flexible and to just “let it go”. 😉

My next project is getting a vegetable garden going.  I have a lot of seeds left over from the garden I planted two years ago, and I am hoping they are still viable.  Dear hubby built four raised beds in the orchard last year I only grew tomatoes and peppers last year, but this year I want to grow green beans, zucchini squash and pattypan squash, more tomatoes and peppers, garlic, onions, sunflowers and maybe even some melon.  Before we left our house in the valley, I was able to get a few cuttings from my oregano and rosemary plants, along with some star jasmine.  I put them in rooting hormone and it looks like they may just “take”.  We will see.

The energy guide label of our new 5.1 cubic foot freezer - very energy efficient!

The energy guide label of our new 5.1 cubic foot freezer – very energy efficient!

Hubby is also working toward installing a new 400 watt solar system that will keep our new little chest freezer running.  Once that is set up, we will be able to store more foods in the freezer and won’t have to completely rely on canned meats and vegetables.  Of course, once the vegetable garden starts producing, it will be nice to have a place to store the excess.  I doubt that I will have enough produce to can this year, but we will see.

Another project we will be working on within the next couple of weeks will be our water tower.  We have a 500 gallon water storage tank that will be set upon a tower that we are building with 20’ long 6 x 8 foot posts.  This will give us better water pressure in our trailer.  Right now, even though we have hot showers, the water pressure is miserable and all we get is a trickle shower. Posts on this project will come soon.

Finally, another project of ours is getting a honeybee hive established.  Our hope is that with a hive in our orchard and another one next year in the permanent raised bed vegetable garden, we will be able to eventually harvest honey and beeswax, ensure pollination of our fruits and vegetables, and help the general honeybee population thrive. Since I will be growing organically, using only heirloom seeds when possible, our garden should be a safe haven for the bees.

So, there you have it.  That’s why I have been absent for so long!  Now that I am back on the blog, I can’t wait to share with you all the things we are doing to continue establishing this wonderful homestead of ours!

I love comments – please leave one below!

I am sharing this blog post at some of these parties:

Monday:  Meet Up MondayThank Goodness It’s MondayClever Chicks Blog Hop; Grand Social; Mix It Up Monday; Create, Link, Inspire;  Amaze Me MondayMotivation Monday; Inspiration Monday; Made By You Monday; Homemaking Mondays; Mum-bo Monday

Tuesday:   Show & Share Tuesday; The Gathering Spot; Tuesday Garden Party; Brag About ItTuesdays with a Twist; The Scoop; Two Cup Tuesday; Tweak It Tuesday; Inspire Me Tuesdays; Tuesdays at Our Home;  Pinterest Foodie; Lou Lou GirlsInspire Us Tuesday; Party In Your PJ’s

Wednesday: Make, Bake and CreateDown Home Blog HopWildcrafting Wednesday;  Wicked Awesome Wednesday; Whatever goes Wednesday; Show and Share Wednesday; Wined Down Wednesday; What We Accomplished;  Project ParadeWake Up Wednesday; Fluster’s Creative Muster; Hump Day Happenings; Homestead Blog Hop; The Blogger’s Digest; Wow Us Wednesday; Turn To Shine

Thursday:   The HomeAcre Hop; Share Your Cup Thursday;  Home and Garden Thursday;  The Handmade HangoutCreate it Thursday;  Think Tank Thursday; Green Thumb Thursday; Homemaking Party; Treasure Hunt Thursday; All Things Thursday Inspire Us Thursday; Inspire or be Inspired; Project Parade; Inspiration Gallery; Pure Blog Love; Favorite Things

Friday:  Freedom Fridays; Friendship Friday; From The Farm Blog Hop; Eat, Create, PartyPinworthy Projects Party; Farmgirl Friday;  Friday Flash Blog Party; Weekend re-Treat; Family Fun Friday; Friday’s Five Features; Real Food Fridays; Friday FavoritesOld Fashioned Friday; Fridays Unfolded; Inspired Weekend; Show Off Friday; Craft Frenzy FridayFront Porch Friday; No Rules Weekend Party; Friday Favorites; Giggles Galore

Saturday:  Say G’Day SaturdaySuper Saturday; Simply Natural Saturdays;  Saturday Sparks;  Show and Tell Saturday;  My Favorite Things;  Dare to Share; Scraptastic Saturday

Sunday:  Frugal Crafty Home; That DIY Party; Nifty Thrifty Sunday; DIY Sunday Showcase; Snickerdoodle Sunday;  Simple Life Sunday; Think Pink Sunday; Sunday Showcase

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